Success was fleeting for three armed kidnapers who took a boy from his Los Angeles home Wednesday evening, threatening to kill the child if his uncle did not come through with a ransom.
Family members said the ransom was less than $50,000. Within a few hours of its payment and the release of the 7-year-old boy unharmed on a street corner in South-Central Los Angeles, two suspects were arrested and most of the money recovered.
According to police and family members, the incident began about 5 p.m. Wednesday when three men entered the back door of the boy’s home in the 600 block of West 62nd Steet. They apparently followed a family member into the house.
“I didn’t even know the men were in the house until my baby started screaming,” said the child’s mother, Bensie Hunter, as she recounted the incident Thursday afternoon.
She said she was in the kitchen when her son, a second-grader, started yelling about men with guns.
The kidnapers, two of whom wore ski masks, told Hunter to lie on the floor and ordered other family members--including her mother and her 10-year-old son--into bedrooms.
They wrapped a towel around the 7-year-old and threatened to shoot his mother if he did not stop yelling. Hunter said they whisked him outside to a car, where a fourth man was waiting, and left a note for her brother, Rider Jones, demanding money.
Police--called by a neighbor who saw the armed men--arrived soon after the kidnapers had left and began working with Jones, who owns a Los Angeles auto body shop and towing service. Hunter said the kidnapers paged her brother and left messages on his voice mail, telling him where to drop off the ransom money.
She said Jones went to various locations during the night to meet the kidnapers, but they never showed up. Finally, about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, they appeared with the boy, whose eyes and mouth had been covered with tape, at a prearranged location.
Hunter said Jones tossed the money to the kidnapers, who released the boy. She added that neither she nor, apparently, her brother recognized the kidnapers.
Police would not disclose details of the arrest, which they said occurred about 6 a.m. after a short foot chase. Most of the ransom was recovered.
Dwayne Spatley Sr., 27, and Jeffery Washington, 29, both of Los Angeles, were booked on suspicion of kidnaping for ransom. They were being held on $100,000 bail. Police, who did not mention a fourth man, said they are searching for the third suspect.
The boy told his family he was moved around during the night but was not hurt.
“He said he wasn’t scared,” Hunter said. Still, he did not want to go home and spent Thursday at an aunt’s, where he refused to go outside.
“I think he was shook up,” Hunter said.